Tackling Jim Crow

Tackling Jim Crow: Racial Segregation in Professional Football, 2003

Author(s): Alan H. Levy
  • Type: Book
  • Researcher: Other Researchers
  • Timeline: 2000s
  • Affiliation:

Harvard, a national football power in the 1890s, had one African American, William H. Lewis, who played center...Next door to Harvard, William Arthur Johnson [MIT Class of 1894] integrated football at MIT in 1890. 

Alan H. Levy, Tackling Jim Crow

About the Book

Many are familiar with Jackie Robinson and the integration of Major League Baseball after all the years of separate black and white leagues, but fewer people know of the segregation and then integration of the National Football League. The timing and sequence of events were different, but football followed a pattern similar to that of baseball in regard to the beginning and end of racial segregation.

This work traces professional football’s movement from segregation to integration, beginning with a discussion of the various reasons why the game was first segregated. It describes the schemes that NFL owners came up with to ban African Americans from the league in the 1930s and 1940s, and tells how these barriers broke down after World War II. The author considers how professional football overcame the legacies of Jim Crow and how Jim Crow laws may still haunt the game.

Levy, Alan H. Tackling Jim Crow: Racial Segregation in Professional Football. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.